A 16-year-old girl detective stars in a mystery paying tribute to Sherlock Holmes.
Arcadia Greentree is a white, clever, middle-class scholarship student at a school for England's upper crust. She's not popular with either classmates or staff; is it because of her cold mannerisms, her conviction that she knows better than her teachers, or her penchant for offering unsolicited advice based on careful observation? Arcadia's content with her studies, the mysteries she unearths, and with the Saturday puzzles her mother gives her (each provided with enough information for readers to solve, followed by a clearly explained solution). Nonetheless, she's concerned about the unknowns within her own school: students behaving strangely, cameras watching the students' every move, a secret door in the headmaster's office. Something unsavory is happening, and Arcadia's parents are in danger. Sherlock Holmes parallels abound. Some, such as Arcadia's violin, will be recognizable to readers who've absorbed Holmes in popular culture. Others, including character and place names taken from lesser-known short stories or Arthur Conan Doyle's life, provide more fan service for adult Sherlock-ians than for young readers not so entrenched in the minutiae of Great Detective trivia.
Though overstuffed with obscure allusions and unnecessary infodumps, this series opener is pleasurably packed with clever, solvable, well-explained puzzles; hits the spot for a mystery lover. (Mystery. 12-14)